Favia Viaggi - Hunting in Bulgaria and abroad


Hunting in Lithuania


Woodcock hunts begin at around 9:00 AM, the best time being in daylight, with a pointing dog. The Setter and the Pointer have proved themselves invaluable helpers for this hunt. The woodcock is a secretive bird; most commonly encountered in forests, hence its name - woodcock. It likes to hide along the edge of the forest, in gullies, near small rivers, where the soil is soft and in short bushes (briar, blackberry and thorny bushes), but must be close to the forest. During rapid temperature drops, the woodcock can be found in pine forests, where the snow and rime can’t reach the ground.

There it spends the entire day feeding and resting, and manages to survive because the soil doesn’t freeze. Some of the best regions for hunting woodcocks can be found in Bulgaria. These regions maintain the vitally necessary for the bird temperature of 5 degrees Celsius. It’s a well-known fact that one of the biggest woodcock migration routes – via Pontica – passes through Bulgaria, making it one of the best hunting destinations for this bird in the world.

These birds stay for the longest time-period precisely in Bulgaria. Bulgarian hunters don’t have much interest in woodcocks, allowing mostly foreign hunters to indulge in this hunt. The best habitats are near the Black sea, because the snow melts quickly thanks to the maritime climate. The hunting terrains are easily traversable because the soil is soft and lacks rocky areas. Some of the forests are sparse which allows for better visibility of the birds and more trophies.

The hunt for woodcocks is tremendously interesting because it is difficult, involves long treks and strong emotions. The best pointing dog for hunting these birds is the English setter. It has a firm stance, searches the places where the vegetation is thickest, has a good tempo and covers large areas. Unlike the Pointer it searches in a circular fashion and, most of the time, it tries to block the bird’s escape.

The Pointer has a good sense of smell, but searches further and in a straight line, which makes it possible for it to miss some of the birds. There are exceptions; some Pointers are very good in hunting woodcocks. Lately, we have begun to see the German shorthaired pointer in the forest, but the problem is that they track and give chase to furred game.

The best terrains are short-stalked forests, clearings, and sparse beech, oak and coniferous forests as long as there are meadows frequented by livestock nearby. At night, woodcocks find their food in those meadows by burrowing.

Woodcock Hunting in Bulgaria

Wild ducks

Wild duck hunting is one of the coldest and most exciting types of wing shooting in Bulgaria. There are three types of duck hunting. The first kind is at flight, early in the morning and at dusk. The second kind is with fake lures at the resting spots (reservoirs, dams, rivers and runoff water). The third kind is walked up hunting along river banks, canals and streams.

When hunting in the early hours of the morning, the hunters have to be at the hunting spots before dawn. The birds move from ther feeding spots towards the resting spots. Those are normally large dams and high-water rivers. Wearing warm clothes is recommended, but using camouflage coverings is a must, due to the fact that these birds have a sharp eyesight and a very acute sense of hearing. It is a good idea for hunters to use auditory decoys, so as to direct the birds towards themselves. You may use retriever dogs (Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Drahthaarts, Kurzhaarts and Setters). The dogs need to be very disciplined, compliant and to obey the command “Stay in place!”. Dogs with experience trace the shot birds by themselves and swiftly retrieve them for their guide.

During the hunts at dusk, it is advisable to lie in wait for the ducks at their feeding spots. Those are: surface runoff areas (overland flow), harvested fields (rice fields), shallow streams, flooded corn fields (grooves filled with water). It is mandatory to use auditory decoys, so as to direct the birds towards the desired places. It is advisable to use retriever dogs, due to the fact that the hunt takes place in the darker hours of the day. For this kind of wing shooting in Bulgaria, using Drahthaars and Kurzhaars brings greater success. They are able to find the shot birds visually as well as by smell, while Labradors and Golden Retrievers tend to track the bird visually and are more suited for hunting at wide open water areas (reflective water surfaces).

Walked up hunting is the second method of hunting ducks. That is an emotion-filled outing involving long hikes, which is why the hunter must be in excellent health. This kind of hunt is most sucessful when the bigger dams in the area freeze over. Smaller canals and rivers do not allow the water to freeze even at temperatures below -15 degrees. Birds are aware of that and they find favourable conditions to rest and eat. It is recommended to start this type of hunt at 6am, and it can last until as late as 5pm. It may then be combined with an evening hunt at dusk. Combined, the two types of hunt can bring wonderful results. During walked up hunts, it is good to use a guide who knows the places where the birds rest during the day. Once you near the resting spots, you need to move quietly and stay low. You need to use the surrounding vegetation as a cover while you approach the birds and use the element of surprise. It’s possible to lift between 20 and 50 birds into the air at one of these spots. When moving along a riverbank or canal, you need a disciplined dog that walks no more than 15-20 steps ahead of you. Once you near the resting spots, the dog must obey the command „Heel!“ or “Behind me!” so as not to lift the resting game birds. In Bulgaria, the most widely established dog breeds are Drahthaar and Kurzhaar. Once the birds have been shot, the dogs must retrieve the birds from water as well as dry land under the command “Retrieve!”. The dog must be able to maneuvre through obstacles (water obstacles, fallen trees, ponds, etc.) – in other words, it needs to be hardy while retrieving.

The third kind of hunting is by lying in wait for the birds at their resting spots. Those are: large reservoirs (dams), surface runoffs. It is mandatory to use lures (decoys). It is advisable to put between 40 and 100 duck decoys into the water. It is good to have two or three pairs of spinning wing decoys (mojos). You may use mobile duck decoys with electric motors, so as to create the illusion that the birds are moving. The hunters need to have made a temporary hiding place at the river bank. It must blend in with the terrain so as not to arouse suspicion in the birds. A boat camouflaged with reed vegetation can be used for the same purpose. Hunting by boat allows the hunters to choose the hunting spots for themselves. When using decoys in such cases, they need to be mobile, with built-in chords and weights (so that they can be thrown directly from the boat).

Wild Duck Hunting in Bulgaria